Identification of a Serotonin 2A Receptor Subtype of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders With Pimavanserin: The Sub-Sero Proof-of-Concept Trial Protocol.

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Identification of a Serotonin 2A Receptor Subtype of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders With Pimavanserin: The Sub-Sero Proof-of-Concept Trial Protocol.

Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:591

Authors: Baltzersen OB, Meltzer HY, Frokjaer VG, Raghava JM, Baandrup L, Fagerlund B, Larsson HBW, Fibiger HC, Glenthøj BY, Knudsen GM, Ebdrup BH

Abstract
Background: All current approved antipsychotic drugs against schizophrenia spectrum disorders share affinity for the dopamine receptor (D2R). However, up to one-third of these patients respond insufficiently, and in some cases, side-effects outweigh symptom reduction. Previous data have suggested that a subgroup of antipsychotic-naïve patients will respond to serotonin 2A receptor (2AR) blockade.
Aims: This investigator-initiated, translational, proof-of-concept study has overall two aims; 1) To test the clinical effectiveness of monotherapy with the newly approved drug against Parkinson’s disease psychosis, pimavanserin, in antipsychotic-free patients with first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorders; 2) To characterize the neurobiological profile of responders to pimavaserin.
Materials and Equipment: Forty patients will be enrolled in this 6-week open label, one-armed trial with the selective serotonin 2AR antagonist (pimavanserin 34 mg/day). At baseline, patients will undergo: positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the serotonin 2AR using the radioligand [¹¹C]Cimbi-36; structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); MR spectroscopy of cerebral glutamate levels and diffusion tensor imaging; cognitive and psychopathological examinations; electrocardiogram, and blood sampling for genetic- and metabolic analyses.
Outcome Measures: The primary clinical endpoint will be reduction in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) positive score. Secondary clinical endpoints comprise multiple clinical ratings (positive and negative symptoms, depressive-, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, quality of life, social functioning, sexual functioning, and side-effects). PET, MRI, and cognitive parameters will be used for in-depth neuropsychiatric characterization of pimavanserin response.
Anticipated Results: Clinically, we expect pimavanserin to reduce psychotic symptoms with similar effect as observed with conventional antipsychotics, for which we have comparable historical data. We expect pimavanserin to induce minimal side-effects. Neurobiologically, we expect psychotic symptom reduction to be most prominent in patients with low frontal serotonin 2AR binding potential at baseline. Potential pro-cognitive and brain structural effects of pimavanserin will be explored.
Perspectives: Sub-Sero will provide unique information about the role serotonin 2AR in antipsychotic-free, first-episode psychosis. If successful, Sub-Sero will aid identification of a “serotonergic subtype” of schizophrenia spectrum patients, thereby promoting development of precision medicine in clinical psychiatry.
Clinical Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials, identifier NCT03994965.

PMID: 32425802 [PubMed]

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